Aaaand we’re back! Oxford University to train Open Knowledge Ambassadors

This post was written by Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in Residence at Bodleian Libraries and published on the Bodleians’ blog.

In a national first, Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries and  IT Services are collaborating on a four-part course to help academics, students, and related staff work with Wikipedia. Oxford University staff and students will earn an ‘Open Knowledge Ambassador’ certificate for taking part in training workshops, spaced every two weeks through Hilary term, that help them support activities such as edit-a-thons. The programme is a part of Oxford’s annual Engage programme in digital communication for researchers.

Although the course will be centred around Wikipedia, the title reflects that it is not about a web site, but about understanding and explaining the possibilities of freely-reusable open knowledge. This is increasingly topical in academia as more research outputs become open access, more learners use open educational resources and more cultural institutions share their digital media on open platforms such as Wikimedia Commons.

The course, hosted in the Centre for Digital Scholarship in the Bodleian’s Weston Library, will be led by Dr Martin Poulter, the Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian In Residence.

The sessions will involve active learning, based on assignments which involve exploring Wikipedia and related sites and report backing back to the group. On the way, each participant build a personal portal of tools and links related to their areas of interest. The focus is on building an understanding of Wikipedia’s strengths and weaknesses and involving colleagues in using it to support research and education.

The course is not about the fine details of Wikipedia’s internal processes or its house style, but more about using open knowledge sites in an informed way and explaining them to others. For hands-on experience of improving Wikipedia articles, participants are recommended to register for one of next term’s public editathon events: those announced so far are a social internet editathon for Wikipedia’s 15th birthday in January and the first ever Tudor music editathon on 5 February.

The first two workshops will look at ways to get and make use of open knowledge from Wikipedia and other sites, and at questions of quality and reliability. We will explore some of the open knowledge tools which are incredibly useful but usually only known to ‘power users’. The latter two workshops will explore ways of putting information in, including how to work with a group of experts to improve articles or share images. Enthusiasm for sharing knowledge, and helping others do so, is the only prerequisite.

Formal booking will open for Oxford staff and students in early 2016. Potential trainees can email Martin at martin.poulter@bodleian.ox.ac.uk to register an interest.

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